Cameron Ford Canine Cognition Seminar

This page contains videos and notes for canine cognition testing, from the February 25-27, 2022 Seminar at QCDTC


The goal of the warm up is to get the dog used to the buckets before the tests begin.

There are no corrections. The dog is free to explore both buckets. Handler praises dog when the dog finds the treat (or toy). The pattern is always the same: 1) show the dog the treat, 2) move to the right side, 3) move to the left side, 4) move back to center. Look ahead, not at the dog. When you’re behind the correct bucket for that run, you put the treat down. But you always move to the right side first for ALL TESTS.

  1. Handler places treat in front of the right bucket
  2. Handler places treat in front of the left bucket
  3. Handler places treat on top of the right bucket
  4. Handler places treat on top of the left bucket

1 - Distracting pointing cue test

This tests whether the dog follows body cues, or watches the bucket under which the food or treat was actually placed.

The handler points to and looks at the wrong bucket.

The test sheet indicates which bucket to place the treat under for each run.

2 - Marker Cue Test

This tests inference. An occluder is used to keep the dog from seeing which bucket the treat or toy is placed underneath.

Step one is completed behind the occluder.

In the second part, a “marker cue” is placed on top of the bucket containing the treat or toy while the dog watches (handler holds the marker cue in front of the occluder.

The question is whether to dog can infer that the correct bucket is the on on which the marker cue was placed. The marker cue should be a different color than the buckets being used. The buckets need to be a solid color (not translucent). Ideally, the buckets should contrast with the floor.

3 - Causality-Visual (magic cloth)

This tests whether the dog can infer that the item is under the cloth which is higher because it is draped over the bucket, kind of like a magic trick!

4 - working memory, &
5 - memory with distractions

The dog watches while a treat or toy is placed under one of 3 buckets, then an occluder is placed in front of the buckets. The dog must wait 20 seconds or 40 seconds before the occluder is removed and they are asked to find it. The owner is the dog handler for these tests, not the administrator. A scribe must also keep time, and give a 3 second warning.

For the working memory test, the dog is allowed to watch the occluder for the whole time duration.

For the distracted memory test, the handler (which is the owner of the dog for these tests) must distract the dog until time is called and they are free to release their dog to find it.

video notes

We had 12 working teams, working in groups of 3 to trade positions of “Administrator”, “Handler”, and “Scribe”.

I tried to shoot a front view and side view for each run for the first 6 handlers, in order to give a clear picture of what the administrator has to do for each test… giving you a sneak peak behind the scenes. These were edited into 1 video for each exercise.

The exercises are listed in order by dog:

  1. Warm up
  2. Distracting Pointing Cue
  3. Marker Cue
  4. Causality – Visual
  5. Working Memory
  6. Memory with Distractions

Exercises 1-4 were done on Saturday, and the dog’s owner usually acted as Administrator. Exercises 5-6 were done Sunday, and the dog’s owner acted as the Handler for these runs.

I have received permission from the dog’s owners to include the videos below. My apologies that I could not capture video for all the dogs… I had limited iPhone storage.

Marsha Tufft

P.S. I was not on the organizing committee for this seminar. I was merely trying to capture and share information that would benefit all seminar participants, including myself. 

P.P.S. I’m working to edit my notes and will share those eventually. It’s just a lot of work!

Dog 1

dog 2

dog 3

dog 4

dog 5

dog 6

miscellaneous videos & notes

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